Experts say employers play a role in tackling the issue
When his first daughter was born, Steve Marks was juggling two jobs.
From 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., Marks was a nurse manager at a casino medical unit. When his shift ended, he slept an hour or two before moving on to his other job as a hospital supervisor from 11 p.m. to 7 a.m. two nights a week. Afterward, he drove back to his first job, where he curled up under his desk for an hour-long nap.
“When you’ve got bills to pay and things that have to be done, children or parents or other things keeping you up, sleep is the last thing that gets paid attention to,” he said. “It’s like, ‘All right, I can deal with this. Let me just close my eyes for a couple minutes and I’ll get back to it.’ That doesn’t make up for the loss [of sleep].”
After two years, Marks decided to stop working two jobs. Now administrator of health and safety services at Viking Yachts in New Gretna, NJ, he shares his stories to educate people about occupational fatigue.
Kim Olszewski – vice president of Lewisburg, PA-based Mid-State Occupational Health Services – also understands fatigue after working the night shift in health care. She, alongside Marks, participates in presentations on occupational fatigue.
Employers are becoming increasingly aware that fatigue is a safety issue, Olszewski said, and they, along with workers, play a role in tackling the problem.
“The key is the proactive piece, driving it from the top down, talking about fatigue, how it can be managed, how can it impacts all aspects of life – not just work,” she said.